Question of the Month: September 17th, 2019.

How important is aesthetic attraction to you? 

I once met another ace person in a chat group who said aesthetic attraction was very important to her. She described how attractive her most recent ex was in detail and I laughed because we had a similar type when it came to men: that guy who looks like marvel’s god of thunder or he lives at the gym. We gushed about guys and it felt like both a common growing up experience and yet also very different; it mattered how hot people were to us and it mattered that we were both asexual. It was really freeing to talk to her and not be ashamed of my stereotypical type.

I know many aces experience aesthetic attraction to varying degrees, so logically it must be important to some of us, and yet I often feel uncomfortable about valuing how someone looks and having a stereotypical type of person I find hot. I don’t think I have a lot of internalized ace-phobia, but it rears its head when it comes to aesthetic attraction and asks me: “well, what are you going to do with this person you find hot? What should it matter? You’re just being superficial.”

I’ve tried to go on dates with nice people I’m not aesthetically attracted to, but I don’t find unattractive, and the spark doesn’t build the same way it does when I’m out with someone I find hot. It’s all very meh and probably not fair to that person. I don’t know exactly why or how to explain it, but I just know aesthetic attraction matters to me. Maybe non-ace people would struggle to explain it too if they felt like they had to justify themselves.

 

About Talia

Talia is an asexual, nonbinary, vegan-feminist that drinks a lot of coffee and stays up very late playing Blizzard video games and writing fiction. They are working on a PhD in Environmental Studies where they think a lot about oppression as intersectional and impacting identities differentially. Talia has a particular fondness for asexuality, fandom, and Critical Animal Studies. Their personal blog is petuniaparty.tumblr.com
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10 Responses to Question of the Month: September 17th, 2019.

  1. Sennkestra says:

    “Aesthetic Attraction” as a concept is a little confusing for me, because in my experience my aesthetic appreciation of other people is often more tied to wanting to *look like them* myself, rather than wanting to *be with them* in any way, and an attraction model is less useful for describing that phenomenon. However, it’s possible that that’s a complication of being aro ace – it’s hard to tell how appearance affects attraction when I have trouble understanding any of this so-called “attraction” in the first place.

    Overall, I definitely do have a sense of “aesthetic appreciation” at least (which is how I prefer to discuss it), in that I find the faces or bodies or styles of certain people more visually appealing, much as I find certain styles of architecture or furniture design more pleasing, and I do find myself happier on some level when I am around things that I visually like, even if they aren’t any different in function or operation than less visually appealing things.

    So, I wouldn’t be surprised if unconsciously I am drawn towards or favor people I find visually appealing – there are already some studies that show that attractive (or even just tall) people are may be subconsciously perceived as better job candidates, or as more academically skilled than an equivalent average-looking people, so favoring attractive people isn’t necessarily limited to romantic or sexual evaluations.

    • raavenb2619 says:

      Aesthetic attraction is important to me, but in an sort of weird way, I guess. I try to be super clear with myself and other people that I explain it to that it’s not a value judgement in any way. It’s just a subjective experience and we don’t totally get why it happens.
      It does sometimes impact my behavior (for example if I’m aesthetically attracted to someone I’m more likely to want to befriend them and I might enjoy hanging out with them more), but I don’t think there’s an ethical dilemma with that.

      “Aesthetic Attraction” as a concept is a little confusing for me, because in my experience my aesthetic appreciation of other people is often more tied to wanting to *look like them* myself

      I definitely get that, I’m trans and still figuring out my gender presentation so it’s often unclear whether it’s “you are pretty” or “i want to look like you” or both or something else.

  2. Coyote says:

    Hm. Well, on the one hand, it’s not important, in that it doesn’t really…. directly affect my relationships in any particular way, but on the other hand, without it, questioning would be a lot more confusing, and having given myself permission to recognize most of my attraction as clearly nonsexual gives me a lot of peace of mind, so it’s personally important to me in that respect. That’s also intertwined with why I feel so personally threatened when people treat differentiating types of attraction like it’s inherently the same thing as having dual romantic/sexual orientations.

  3. luvtheheaven says:

    Aesthetic attraction is super unimportant to me. I feel it occasionally for attractive celebrities or once every few months, if that often, in person almost exclusively toward feminine women. Like “wow she’s so pretty I really feel like a temptation to tell her I love her hair/outfit” or something. But I’m also not entirely sure if this is overly related to myself wishing that’s how I could look as a feminine woman myself. It does NOT affect who I would partner with, or who my demi-sensual (not sexual, but sensual) attraction switch flips for, or who i have felt like I’m in love with – none of them have I felt that rare aesthetic attraction experience toward. It doesn’t really affect my life and didn’t even affect my questioning my orientations process much because toward the vast majority of people i just don’t feel it.

    I’ll admit in past years the thought that any aces have enough aesthetic attraction to still watch films/movies just for the “eye candy” was a “sounds fake but okay” moment that i didn’t fully understand. I thought that was always sexual attraction motivated and then I eventually met aces who proved me wrong.

  4. demiandproud says:

    It’s useful to me, in that it’s one of the layers of attraction I may feel. I have to confess that to me it’s not so much about looks as it is about how people sound (which I also count under aesthetic). It can definitely cause an “oh hey” moment. If a voice hooks me, I may follow a vlogger, remember someone after a meeting better, write fanfic about a character, think back on what they said… not immediately leading to relationships, but I think part of what works for me instead of sexual attraction?

  5. Rachel says:

    I experience aesthetic attraction toward men, but that is super unimportant to me, to the point where I don’t even treat it as an identity so much as a trait. I’m also pretty dead-set against making arsthetic attraction a “thing” like the way we treat romantic orientation, if only because my aesthetic attraction is far outweighed by the notable lack of romantic or sexual attraction and would force me under the banner of “secret straight all along.”

  6. Patience says:

    I tend to feel something like aesthetic attraction (or maybe appreciation is better word) quite often. Though mostly it’s just the thought “that person is kinda good-looking” about some random person I see on the street. So it doesn’t really impact how I form relationships. If I’m in big group I might gravitate towards those that catch my eye. I might also want to get to know them better, but only they turn out to a nice personality as well. So like deminandproud said, not directly linked to forming relationships, but it’s definitely something that happens for me.

  7. mlevis1996 says:

    It is something I have thought much about as well. Aesthetic attraction to me doesn’t mean that she has to be a “10/10” (I have a thing for cute girls) but I too have been in relationships with girls who I was not aesthetically attracted too. I tried to tell myself that it didn’t matter, because I truly tried to believe that it did not, but after a long while of being with them I couldn’t bring myself to keep going because I guess I do value it (aesthetic attraction)

  8. kaikiky says:

    Aesthetic attraction is important to me in the sense that I notice myself experiencing it a lot (mostly for some particular anime guys to be honest, but occasionally for real people), but not important in the sense that it doesn’t motivate me to do anything. I think it feels good to feel an aesthetic attraction, it’s like a kind of Romantic sublime encounter with Beauty. I like experiencing that sensation.
    But I don’t feel any desire to approach someone just because I find them aesthetically attractive. I will spend a lot of time appreciating art of my anime characters though since that doesn’t feel creepy to me the way fawning over a real person would lol.
    I’m not sure I could describe a “type” that I have when it comes to aesthetic attraction. It’s not exactly random since there some are similarities between the types of characters/people I find attractive, but I don’t find EVERY person with those similar traits attractive and there are some inconsistencies in what I like as well.
    Also, with aesthetic attraction, I feel a difference between when I see a real person and I’m like, “Oh wow, that body and face, they were clearly born with nice genes, they’re lucky and I’m jealous because of how attractive they are,” and when I see someone and I’m like, “Oh damn, that person has a nice face, nice body, AND an amazing fashion sense god they look amazing!!!”
    In the first one, I feel an attraction in that I can tell I like what I see, but the second one is a lot more EXCITING because it’s not just that the person has a nice physical appearance, they also have a style that I love, and I get more excited about those kinds of CHOICES people make with their aesthetic than with the simple fact of what genes a person was born with. Both have an aesthetic component to them that I can feel an attraction to, but they have a different effect on me.

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